The release of the long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration guidelines governing commercial use of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has allowed the drone industry to finally take off, opening up a wide range of new opportunities for drones, from agriculture to real estate to disaster response.
Although drones provide a number of benefits in emergency situations, they have also come under fire for impeding first responder activities. Just days ago, a California man was arrested for flying a drone into a firefighting effort northeast of Sacramento.
Moreover, San Bernardino County officials unanimously offered $75,000 in rewards for help in tracking down drone operators who interfered with firefighters during three major wildfires last summer.
Aware of the critical role UAVs can play in disaster relief efforts, drone manufacturers are swiftly stepping up to the plate with technologies that can reduce drone interference with disaster response efforts. Leading drone manufacturer DJI has developed a solution to keep unauthorized drones from hindering firefighting operations.
Teaming up with AirMap, a leading provider of airspace intelligence and navigation services to unmanned aircraft, DJI has added real-time wildfire alerts to their geofencing system.
AirMap obtains the wildfire information directly from the US Department of the Interior, which records 300 new wildfires each day during summer fire season and more than 500 new fires on the busiest days, and immediately pushes it to drone operators.
“AirMap delivers dynamic airspace intelligence to unmanned aircraft in order to provide the safest operating environment possible,” said Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap. “Through our partnership with DJI and other drone manufacturers and application developers, more than 70 percent of the drones operated in the United States now benefit from wildfire information in real time.”
DJI debuted its new geofencing system for drones last year. Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) provides DJI drone users with live, up-to-date information on locations where flight may be restricted by regulation or raise safety concerns, such as temporary flight restrictions due to forest fires.
The integration of the new AirMap wildfire alerts into the GEO geofencing system in the DJI GO app will prevent drone incursions by helping pilots avoid flying drones near sensitive locations, such as airports, prisons, and nuclear power plants.
“DJI wantsto equip its customers with safety-critical information that will help our first responders, whether or not a TFR [Temporary Flight Restriction] has been issued,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “This enhancement to GEO will help prevent DJI drones from inadvertently taking off within, or flying into, a wildfire location without authorization.”